Equal parts indebted to Destiny’s Child and The Smiths, a band like The 1975 could not exist without the internet and the cult of the playlist, writes Leonard Duffy.
So it is apt that the Manchester four-piece’s latest album is a deep dive into digital angst.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is an unflinching reflection on how, for better but also for worse, the internet has changed the ways in which we relate to one another.
This is a slightly hackneyed subject – U2 were warning about technology’s tendency to overwhelm as far back as Zoo TV – but one to which the 1975 bring the sharp-edged perspective of a generation for whom electronic overkill is part of everyday life.
The technophobic melancholia that runs through the LP was stunningly replicated with their new live show.
Pell-mell frontman Matty Healy at one point stared at a recreation of an iPhone, seeming to pitch forward as the screen splintered.
He later donned a floppy-eared Pikachu hat and skipped on the spot.
Now and then a glowing rectangle descended from on high while later the group were encased within a 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque monolith.
The message was that technology is all around and that humans are in danger of being reduced to ghosts in the machines they themselves devised.
On paper it reads as terribly bleak.
But the band’s twitchy, caffeinated sound is the precise opposite of moochy.
With Healy embracing the role of conflicted cheerleader – he seems in two minds whether he’s enjoying his rock idol status – the music was sinuous and constantly dazzling.
Early on The 1975 earned a reputation for cloud-scraping rock ballads – Coldplay with a pulse – and they returned to the motherlode with the epic I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes).
Elsewhere they embarked on a joyous lurch into hip-hop, as Healy exchanged bars with No Rome on a cover of the support artist’s Narcissist.
There was lots of twitchy, glitchy genre-splicing too.
Give Yourself a Try was an indie disco anthem from the 23rd century.
And TooTimeTooTimeToo suggested Thom Yorke trapped inside Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist.
The 1975 threw all kinds of mud at the wall and somehow painted a masterpiece.